Tuesday, 26 February 2013

How to Deal With Retirement

We had a glorious morning in Chance Wood last week.  Last month's work party was cancelled because snow made it impossible to get the tools up to the wood and for weeks previously it has been so wet and dreary.  After a weekend's sunshine the snowdrops started to show well and we can expect lots of visitors; time to top up the leaflet dispenser!

Although the air is still frosty the birds seem rejuvenated by the sunshine and the wood is full of activity as the tits chase each other through the branches and the other woodland birds sing their hearts out.

The main job last week was to arrest the wood's encroachment over the boundary and across the public path; anything that will encourage the cyclists to avoid using the path through the wood.  We don't work long before our cake break and soon we were sat either side of the partially cleared path putting the world to rights  (Might the country be in less trouble if WWT volunteers took over Westminster? We certainly think so!) when a cyclist appeared struggling up the path, pushing his bike.  As he regained his breath he was drawn into conversation: "Are any of you retired?  Don't you feel guilty and a bit lost for things to do? I do."  Poor man, he was met by astonished cries: Friday had been taken in preparation for the local group meeting, today was our work party, tomorrow another local work party and a visit to Smite farm needed, later in the week some were volunteering for the National Trust, another work party on Saturday, walking to do, birds to see, sunshine to enjoy…. how can you be bored when you are part of the Wildlife Trust?

Coming up to retirement?  Don't bother with those courses - £3 a month and join Worcestershire Wildlife Trust!

Roger, Chance Wood

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Searching for British orchids

As a welcome break from this winter weather, John Tilt gave us a hint of summer in a most interesting talk, accompanied by some stunning photographs, on his search for the 51 British orchid species. Finding the smaller ones in long grass is no easy matter as some, such as the musk orchid, are only 5 cm tall. However, common spotted orchids can be present in large numbers and the lizard orchid grows to a height of 90 cm.

Orchids are extremely dependent on ground fungi. Their seeds are tiny, like clouds of dust, providing little protein, so specific fungi are necessary for their germination. The widespread use of fungicide in gardens and the countryside has, therefore, been a real threat. Orchids are protected by law but those that are illegally removed rarely survive because of this fungal dependency. In culturing British orchids, Kew Gardens is doing much to ensure that rare species do not become extinct.

Orchids have three petals; the markings on the lower one, the lip, aid identification that otherwise can be very difficult, particularly as some species readily hybridise.  Orchids grow most often in calcareous, flower-rich meadows and, therefore, these meadow-types need protection.
early spider orchid (c) John Tilt
 John described a number of sites around the country, each with its own orchid species. Early purple, common spotted, heath spotted and less common species can be found in Worcestershire at Grafton Wood, Trench Wood, Hipton Hill, Castlemorton Common, Bredon Hill, Big Meadow (Knapp & Papermill) and Eades Meadow. A little further afield are Cleeve Common, Hornsleasow Meadow, Cricklade Hill and Fish Hill. However, the orchid capital of the UK is Kent where the rare lizard and monkey orchids can be found as well as fly, man and lady orchids.

In conclusion, there is much that is not understood about this beautiful plant and more recordings and biological records are needed.

The next meeting of the Malvern Group is at 7.30 pm on Thursday March 7th at Malvern Evangelical Church. Iain Green, wildlife photographer, will give an illustrated talk: On the wild side: from Downing Street to our local high street.  We look forward to seeing you there.

Derek, Malvern Local Group